Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cochon and Cider: Good for Party Types

By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri Krasov

In ancient Greece, proto-psychologists suggested that all people can be defined by four personality types. Sanguine types were supposed to be pleasure-seeking and sociable, choleric – ambitious and jittery, melancholic – sad and quiet, and phlegmatic – relaxed and slow. True or not, some activities have always attracted mostly the sanguine types (loosely translates as “red-blooded”) or, as we can call ourselves, the party types!

A big and boisterous party for the San Francisco Bay Area foodies and winos was happening last weekend at a private estate in Sausalito, provided by the local food and wine industry celebrities – Manfred Wremble, Executive Chef of Schroeder’s Restaurant in San Francisco; Mark & Myriam Pasternak, proprietors of Devil's Gulch Ranch; Heather Jerrehian, COO of AgLocal; Jolie Devoto & Hunter Wade, proprietors of Devoto Orchards Ciders and Golden State Cider, and their colleagues, co-founder Nils Reid and director of sales Yeshe Wingerd, as well as other team members of AgLocal.

Mighly Dry Golden State Cider and Devoto Orchards Cider were paired with ethically raised roasted pork provided by Pasternak and prepared by Chef Wremble, who also made his signature salads for the occasion: Roasted Acorn Squash with smoked apples, Brussels sprouts and walnuts, and German Potato with bacon, eggs, capers, and cider vinaigrette.      

Devoto Orchards Ciders (along with their newly launched Golden State Cider) was originally founded in 1976 by Stan and Susan Devoto. Sourced from the 6,500 apple trees, including more than 50 heirloom varieties on the family's 20-acre farm, semi-dry cider is an elegant alternative to beer and offers lower alcohol content than wine. Hand-picked at the peak of ripeness, Devoto's apples are pressed and fermented in stainless steel to preserve the aromas and bright acidity of the fruit. Today, Devoto Orchards Cider is owned and operated by Jolie Devoto and Hunter Wade. 

AgLocal (Naithan Jones, Founder/CEO) is a San Francisco-based company that delivers responsibly sourced, sustainable and ethically raised meats from local family farms to consumers' doorsteps. The company recently announced that its farm-fresh, healthful meats are available for order via AmazonFresh, reaching out to consumers beyond Northern California.

Each AgLocal box has information on the farms that source the meats, as well as recipes on how to prepare them from top chefs who partner with AgLocal.

The Apostle of Italian Pie Tony Gemignani Brings You The Pizza Bible Cookbook

By Emma Krasov
 
I was sitting at the table at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco’s North Beach “Little Italy” and watching the line of Tony’s fans waiting for their turn to get a signed copy of the celebrity chef’s third cookbook, The Pizza Bible, from the Master’s own hands.

The book-signing launch party started at 5:30 p.m., and the line, entertained by an old-fashioned accordionist, was already around the block. By 9:30 p.m., when the party ended, there were still late-comers hoping to get in, while the constant stream of people has never stopped even for a moment.

San Francisco celebrity chef Tony Gemignani, 11-time World Pizza Champion, and his team – Elmer Mejicanos, Laura Meyer, Thiago Vasconcelos, and Matt Molina – introduced to the party attendees all the new award-winning pies featured in The Pizza Bible, and the artisanal pizza-making was going on all night.

The Pizza Bible is a comprehensive guide to making pizza, covering nine different regional styles. It includes standards like Neopolitan, Roman, and Chicago, as well as renowned pizza sub-specialties like St. Louis and Californian. Tony Gemignani, a Guinness world record-holding pizza-spinner, goes beyond devotion to one particular style covered in most pizza books. (For those who truly love pizza, there’s no need to be monogamous). The pizza master brings his favorite food to the people in all its glorious forms, from Chicago deep-dish to paper-thin Roman style.

The Pizza Bible is the world’s first guide to making all of the major pizza styles, filling a hole in the market and elevating the craft of making pizza to that of bread or charcuterie.
The Pizza Bible is available through Amazon, Indie Bound, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes. Publisher: Ten Speed Press.
For more information or to purchase, please visit www.tonyspizzanapoletana.com/the-pizza-bible.  
Tony Gemignani Restaurant Group is comprised of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, Tony’s Coal Fired Pizza & Slice House, Capo’s, and Slice House at AT&T Park, all located in San Francisco, CA; Tony’s of North Beach and Tony’s Slice House, located in Rohnert Park, CA; Pizza Rock Sacramento; and Pizza Rock Las Vegas. For more information, please visit www.tonygemignani.com.
Tony’s Pizza Napoletana is located at: 1570 Stockton St. (at Union St.), San Francisco, CA 94133. Call for reservations: (415) 835-9888.

Marlowe of Class and Style

By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri Krasov

 
Everything about Marlowe restaurant in San Francisco is good. The new home in a bustling Mission Bay district; the savvy staff; the well-selected wine list, composed of French, Italian, Spanish, Austrian, and Californian labels; the short but sweet artisanal beer list; creative cocktails, like The Baker (Dickel rye whiskey, Aperol, grapefruit, lemon, wildflower honey); and of course, the food.

The ambiance is hip, cozy, spare yet comfortable – even on a busiest night (which is every night here), and in addition to the convivial bar/dining area with communal tables and standing room, there is a special patio seating for small private groups at the back of the restaurant.   

The class and style of this place comes from a team of local celebrity restaurateurs, husband-and-wife Anna Weinberg and James Nicholas, and Chef Jennifer Puccio who never fail to impress.

On the Bites menu, Duck Liver Cromesquis (a nostalgic reminder of their vanished foie gras twins?) are deep fried to perfectly golden-brown, crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside, and smartly garnished with pickled grapes, mustard seed gastrique, and spicy cress.

Mushroom soup is a wonderful cool-weather starter, topped with whipped crème fraiche and chives, and accompanied by cute little gougeres, perfumed with black truffle.

Another great dish from the Starters menu that we don’t want to see going away with the season is Di Stefano Burrata, served with bursting with freshness heirloom tomatoes, toasted sourdough croutons, oregano vinaigrette, balsamic, and topped with dried garlic chips and large grains of sea salt.

The shining stars of the Mains menu are many. Grilled Niman Ranch Pork Chop is probably the juiciest and the best-tasting you’d ever try anywhere. It comes with sugar pie pumpkin, broccolini, harissa, and mint, creating a symphony of unusual gustatory sensations.

Marlowe Burger bears the establishment’s name for a reason. It’s utterly satisfying, and adorned with caramelized onions, melted cheddar, crispy bacon, horseradish aioli with a needed kick, and a healthy helping of fries.   

Even if you usually skip desert, don’t skip this one: the Chocolate Cake is elevated to an unprecedented level of deliciousness with white chocolate coconut frosting, and a pool of coffee-flavored crème Anglaise that surrounds the spongy chocolate chunk. Unforgettable!

Marlowe is located at 500 Brannan St., San Francisco. Call for reservations: 415-777-1413. More information at: www.marlowesf.com.

Tirol, Austria: the Thrill of the Mountains

By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri Krasov

Ah, the Alps in Tirol! From the barren peaks piercing the clouds, through the sparkling waterfalls streaming amid pine forests, down to the lush green meadows bursting with flowers… The spirits of Nordic legends soar over jagged peaks, and the demons of ice and snow reside on the slopes high up, where no birds dare to fly.


I’ve always known that vacationing in the mountains was for the athletic, physically well-adjusted, and fearless people who don’t mind long hikes, sharp air temperature changes, and heavy backpacks…
Just like the absolute majority of vacationers, I’ve always preferred seaside and leisure to snowy peaks and incessant hiking. However, my recent personal discovery of Tirol region in Austria made me rethink my vacation persuasion.

Our lucky adventure started with the Lufthansa non-stop flight San Francisco- Munich. From there, it was an easy ride with a car-and-driver transportation service, Four Seasons Travel – their office located right at the airport. Soon my husband and I were in Austria; warmly greeted at a charming Hotel Alte Post in a beautiful little town of St. Anton am Arlberg – one of the 12 “Best of the Alps” most traditional Alpine resorts in Europe.

Besides excellent service, based on decades of hospitality culture, Hotel Alte Post boasts a large wellness facility with sauna, steam room, swimming pool, and hot tubs, and a high-class restaurant that serves full breakfast and dinner.   

Through the windows of our spacious, clad in warm pinewood hotel room, I observed an idyllic picture of hilly green pastures with flocks of sheep whose faint bleating and tinkling bells could be heard in the clean mountainous air.

Our first order of business was to get to the top of Valluga (2811m) where from a 360-degree sightseeing platform one could enjoy the view of the Alps in four different countries – Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy.

State-of-the-art Galzigbahn, constructed in 2006, took us on a fast and breathtaking trip above the clouds. Back in 1937, the Galzig cable car was one of the first gondolas in the region, serving 210 persons an hour. The new contemporary lift is based on the technology of a Ferris wheel, making it possible for the passengers to embark and exit at ground level. The unique glass construction of the gondola station looks like a giant crystal, lit up at night.

A local museum, dedicated to the history of St. Anton and located in a 1912 “Villa Trier” tells a story of Hannes Schneider – the Arlberg ski pioneer. The father of downhill skiing as we know it began his career as a ski instructor in 1907 and founded the world’s first ski school in winter of 1920-21, teaching the guests of the Hotel Alte Post how to shift their weight, and adjust speed and balance on uneven terrain.  In his St. Anton ski school, which still exists today, Schneider trained groups of students according to their individual abilities. He introduced the “Arlberg technique” to the international audiences, and then traveled to Japan with a series of lectures and seminars affirming his motherland’s leading role in the development of winter sports.

He also performed as an actor in a number of highly popular ski movies, like Der Weisse Rausch (The White Thrill) directed by Arnold Fanck and shot in St. Anton in the winter of 1930-31. In 1938 Schneider was imprisoned by the Nazis for repeatedly speaking up against the Nazi regime and supporting Jewish friends. Thanks to international pressure, he was soon released, and in 1939 immigrated to the USA, where he established a famous ski school in New Hampshire, and died in 1955.

A ski resort with a worldwide reputation, the clean, cheerful, and well-groomed St. Anton, which holds an annual competition of flower adornments on the building façades, is so small that after spending one day here, on the next day we were greeting our new acquaintances on the streets.
Those were some neighbors from our hotel, and the owner of Pete restaurant where we ate Tiroler Groestl for lunch – a mixture of fried potatoes, onions, and shreds of meat and sausage, topped with a sunny-side up egg and scallions. This simple and delicious dish is very popular in Tirol, and is served in any restaurant, as we’ve discovered on our further travels through the region. 

We boarded a train of the Arlberg railway, inaugurated by the Emperor Franz Joseph in 1884 – a masterpiece of alpine engineering still in an excellent working condition today – and headed to Innsbruck, the capital of Tirol.  

In Innsbruck, the mountains come up closer to the city – cold, severe, with snow-covered tops. Here, we ascended to the wind-swept heights of Seegrube (1905 м) and Hafelekar (2300 м) in a funicular and two cable cars, just to get a quick look at the endless mountainous country, and the lush emerald greenery of the city below, traversed by the jade-colored river Inn.

Chilled to the bone from a close encounter with the North Chain mountain range, I indulged in a warm delicious Kasspatzl’n mit Roestzwiebln (cheese spaetzle with roasted onions) at the oldest city restaurant, Weisses Roessl, founded in 1590.
This slow-food restaurant serves all the farm-to-table traditional specialties, like groestl, stemming from Austrian, Hungarian, and Bohemian culinary roots.
After lunch we explored the Old Town and its historical landmarks – Goldener Dachl, a golden roof built for Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519) over a balcony from which he liked to observe the knights’ tournaments; St. Anne’s column, commemorating a 1703 Tyrolean victory over Bavarian troops; and a contemporary outdoor artwork of orange banners listing the names of Austria’s courageous citizens who raised their voices against the Nazi regime during WWII.   

For a relatively small city of about 125 000 population, Innsbruck has an impressive wealth of museums and other cultural institutions. Kaiserliche Hofburg – the imperial court palace, built as residence of the Tyrolean provincial rulers under Archduke Sigmund the Rich, was then extended by Emperor Maximilian I, and later rebuilt in the Viennese baroque style by Maria Theresa (1717-1780). At the Hofkirche (the court church) there is Emperor Maximilian I’s enormous tomb adorned with marble reliefs and surrounded by 28 larger-than-life bronze statues of the Emperor’s ancestors and heroes of antiquity, with three figures designed by Albrecht Durer.

An outstanding collection of arms, arts, and wonders of nature was composed at Schloss Ambras by Archduke Ferdinand II (1529-1595). An extensive Habsburg Portrait Gallery displays masterful depictions of the royal family members from Albrecht III to Franz Joseph I.  
Tiroler Landesmuseen contains a series of permanent art exhibitions, and also includes a solid square kilometer of Das Tirol Panorama – a massive and magnificently realistic painting. It’s dedicated to the formation of Tyrolean identity at the battle of Bergisel Hill under a peasant leader Andreas Hofer against the Bavarian and French occupiers during the Tyrolean Was of Independence in 1809.

Late in the evening we settled in our cozy room in a recently renovated Grand Hotel Europa in the city center. A hearty multi-course dinner at the hotel restaurant, Europa Stueberl consisted of regional and seasonal specialties, like beef broth with liver dumpling, boiled beef with spinach and potatoes, and Tyrolean dessert of knoedle (dumplings filled with plum jam).

Restored and rejuvenated after a good night sleep, we headed for the Swarovski Kristallwelten – a lavish display of all things shiny from the world’s leading manufacturer of cut crystal. Coming from Bohemia in the 1880s, the Swarovski brothers found an ideal place for their sparkling product at the foothills of the Austrian Alps. With a major breakthrough – the invention of the machine to substitute hand-cutting – Daniel Swarovski started a trend that continues to dazzle our stage, screen, and party life for over a century.

The company produces zirconia – an artificial diamond with different colors of crystals coming from different metal oxides used in the process, and clear stones with diamond cut. Artists from Salvador Dali to Andy Warhol used Swarovski crystals in their art, and their remarkable artwork is on display today, as well as a number of site-specific exhibitions that change every several months. 

We were in a hurry trying to get to Kufstein – by the Kaiser mountain range, surrounded by meadows, woods, and lakes – in time for the annual cattle drive. Tyrolean cows, which spend all summer in the green mountainous pastures, hardly have any natural enemies, but they might parish in a thunderstorm, or fall down from a steep hillside. When all the cows are safe and sound at the end of the summer season, their homecoming turns into a grandiose celebration in the Tyrolean villages.

We arrived just in time for the festivities. Along the main drag of Kufstein the bands were playing, the shepherds in lederhosen and Tyrolean hats were performing a rhythmical dance with whips, and krapfen pastries were prepared right there, in multiple street stalls.       

Soon a herd of well-fed brown-and-white cows appeared at the end of the street. Adorned with headdresses made of flowers and ribbons, like Las Vegas showgirls, the cows proceeded down the street past the cheering and applauding crowd. Long after the last of them returned home to their owners, the people continued to celebrate with song and dance, schnapps and sausages from the local makers.

We checked in at the new, well-appointed and exceedingly comfortable Hotel Stadt Kufstein, with wonderfully fluffy snow-white beds in spacious nicely decorated rooms; state-of-the-art wellness facility; beautiful restaurant serving buffet breakfast, a chic bar, and above all – excellent service.  

From the large windows of our room we could see the round white tower of Festung Kufstein (Kufstein fortress) – a landmark dating from 1205 – that soars over the neat and clean little town. It contains a museum of the fortress that used to be a military base, an arena of many battles, especially during the war between Bavaria and Tirol, and a prison in the dark times of religious persecutions and “witch” trials.
There is also a history museum, and the largest open-air organ in the world, “Heldenorgel,” which can still be heard all over town every day at noon. A lift “Kaiser Maximilian” with a panoramic view takes visitors to the fortress.

Rows of beautiful and well-kempt historical buildings along the main street Roemerhofgasse in the old town center surround a pedestrian zone, studded with souvenir shops and quaint little restaurants.
We had enough time only for two of the Kufstein restaurants, but both were truly remarkable.

A restaurant at the Hotel Andreas Hofer serves seasonal fare, including wild mountain goat (chamoia) and venison during the hunting season. The game is nicely complimented by the traditional vegetables – red cabbage, carrots, and mashed potatoes. 

I was blown away by the dessert. Blueberry pancakes Tyrolean style looked dark blue, since they contained more berries than dough, and were simply addictive. After I finished my plate of pancakes, my lips and tongue appeared blue from the abundance of blueberries, but I was in a good company – the majority of the diners at the restaurant were beaming with similar blue-colored smiles.

The oldest restaurant in town, Auracher Loechl, with the “olden days” décor, and very popular with the tourists and locals alike, serves all the Tyrolean specialties, and a remarkable desert, Kaiserschmarrn.  The legend has it that once upon a time an imperial chef accidentally cut up a pancake which he was supposed to serve to the Emperor Franz Joseph. He masked his mistake with rum, raisins, and powdered sugar, and since then the dish has acquired notoriety and popularity.

Our last stop before heading home was at the world-famous Riedel Glass factory in Kufstein. From a second-floor gallery, the visitors can observe a team of skilled glass-blowers in white shirts and sunglasses noiselessly moving in front of the red-hot ovens, transporting bubbles of flaming liquid from one work station to another.
They create delicate pieces of glass art – wine glasses that presumably enhance the taste of wines, whimsical decanters, and flower vases – with an ancient mouth-blowing method, and apply time-honored complicated techniques to produce one of a kind handcrafted Riedel glass, cherished throughout the world for its incomparable beauty.